Renfield (Chris McKay, 2023, USA)

Renfield is the latest installment in Universals' reboots of its classic monsters canon. Following the excellent though deadly serious Invisible Man, and big budget flop of Tom Cruise's MummyRenfield takes a comic and irreverent approach toward its source material. Billed as a direct sequel to Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula, the film stars Nicolas Cage as Dracula, and Nicholas Hoult as Renfield, Dracula's bug-eating servant or - as he is called in the film - "familiar." The filmmakers use the Dracula - Renfield relationship to expound on today's psychological - namely, that Renfield is in a toxic relationship with a narcissist.

This metaphor is rendered quite directly, with the film showing Renfield going repeatedly to therapy sessions where he discovers his true self. Meanwhile, he becomes friendly with a New Orleans police offer - played by Awkwafina - who is similarly dealing with her bad relationship (in this case, the relationship with her corrupt bosses in the police force). Eventually, both characters will confront their bosses in a showdown. The style of the film feels like Evil Dead II meets John Wick, with several action set pieces where the villains meet gruesome demises. If anything, the film is more of an action-comedy than a horror film.

All of the leads are strong, particularly Cage being Cage as Dracula, and Nicholas Hoult playing into his usual type as Renfield. While Renfield is unlikely to be written into the great canon of vampire films, it is nevertheless a breezy 90-minute film that is rarely dull. While there are some weaknesses with the script and some logical inconsistencies regarding vampire lore (the ending in particular is a head-scratcher), Renfield is worth a watch for Cage taking on the role of the dark lord. If it is not worth the price of admission, it is least worth streaming.



Popular Posts